The People's Republic of China, committed to the fight against coronavirus, to trade clashes with the United States and to reduced economic growth, has been engaged by another focal question: the continuous and heated street demonstrations in Hong Kong.
Last year today, one of the most populous demonstrations of the protest was held on the streets of Hong Kong, and still continues to shake the Chinese special administrative region and the world's geopolitical balance.
To explain the protests that have been going on for more than a year, we need to take a step back first.
From 1842 to 1997 Hong Kong was a British colony, from which control it inherited many "western" influences, not only in terms of law, jurisdiction and market economy but also in terms of values and principles. With the Sino-British Joint Declaration, control passed to China in 1997: the agreement provided the assumption for Hong Kong of a special status, under the wording of the formula "One State, two systems", thus providing at least until 2047 a certain level of autonomy with respect to the central government of Beijing. However, this difficult passage has never been truly digested.
Hong Kong represents for China an important outlet for the international economy, a real commercial center for large Chinese companies, geographically and financially strategic.
The persistent interference of the central authority in the Hong Kong region already exploded in 2014, when Beijing decided to prescribe candidates for local democratic elections in order to minimize the risk of internal dissent.
In the summer of 2019, the proposed law on the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China generated internal riots like few known in the past. Protests for the protection of Hong Kong autonomy, for democracy and for the independence of the judicial system soon resulted in violence and arrests, which only last year amounted to over 7,000.
With the start of the new year, despite the initial stalemate of protests due to the coronavirus crisis, the Chinese hold on the city has increased. The violence and arrests motivated by the infringement of measures of social distancing have been increasingly numerous.
A turning point came on May 28, 2020, when the National People's Assembly of Beijing almost unanimously voted for the new national security law . This law should be promulgated in three months and it formally sanctions all activities in opposition to the Chinese authority on the territory, effectively increasing the risks faced by the demonstrators, easily subjected to arrests for sedition, secession, subversion and terrorism. Law enforcement is reinforced by the allocation of Chinese security agents to the region.
The approval of the law further fomented the anger of the protesters, opposed to the possibility that these new forecasts could preventively end the "Hong Kong model".
This strong precarious situation is part of a highly unstable geopolitical context dictated, first and foremost, by the continuous commercial and non-commercial attacks between the United States and China. The first overseas criticisms of the national security law came in fact from American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who condemned the Chinese decision as irreversible in consideration of the independence of the island.
Donald Trump, among various commercial and financial attacks and sanctions, announced his decision to suspend Hong Kong's immunity to trade duties.
The United Kingdom has also opposed the new national security law, proposing a visa extension for over 3 million Hong Kong residents.
In 2014 young activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Joshua Wong defined the clash between Hong Kong and Beijing as an endless war. Will it really be like this?